Is your body ready? It had better be, though that won’t save you now. With this post, we’ll be venturing deep into the mind, cleaning it up it some places, making it run more efficiently in others, and outright destroying certain things in others.
I intend to take two different approaches in my analysis of the mind here. The first will be a basic function approach, covering how to make your mind a little sharper and more capable, as well as going into detail as to certain ways to increase discipline, focus, and mental stamina. The second portion will be covered after making our way through all of this.
Neoreactionaries (especially the HBD crowd) love IQ. We just love it. We fret over it, obsess over it, and sing its praises to the heavens as the great measure of human glory.
I kid…sort of. But seriously, we reactionaries love discussing IQ. Now, while there’s little doubt that for the most part, IQ is fixed, the case that but can never be altered through environmental inputs is…shaky. Environmental inputs like alcoholism and malnutrition can hamper cognitive firepower, but does the correlation go the other way?
It actually may be possible to raise your IQ through certain brain-training exercises and other inputs. It’s fairly clear that certain cognitive processes that more likely than not contribute to the general intelligence factor g can be strengthened through certain forms of mental exercise. This g is what IQ tests attempt to measure, in a very rough and approximate sense.
The research is pretty skimpy so far, but it seems that attempts at increasing “working memory“, a major component of IQ, can be done through certain activities. One of these that I have personal experience with is known as “Dual N-Back” training, in which you remember increasingly elaborate series of letters and positions, training your working memory to handle greater and greater levels of complexity.
A while back, I did consistent training of this sort for a rather lengthy period of time. I can’t verify whether my IQ actually increased, but I can tell you that after a few months of training my working memory had improved to the point that my capacities in this area were equivalent to an above-average individual…while I was dehydrated, hung-over, and concussed. The doctor testing me for concussion had no idea how to react, stating that her test (Remembering number series and reciting them backwards, a common test of focus and working memory used to check for concussions) couldn’t get any more complex and I was doing better than most non-concussed individuals.
Needless to say, I recommend Dual N-Back training highly. If it sounds of interest you can download an N-back training program here.
I’ve also seen some pop psychology stuff claiming that doing crosswords or sudoku every day will also make you smarter. I’m skeptical of this personally, but the ability to sit down and focus on something intellectually challenging like a really tough crossword puzzle breeds a kind of mental discipline that carries over to any sort of demanding activity. I would expect similar results from any sort of intense mental activity that requires heavy concentration (i.e. playing chess, reading dense philosophical texts…etc).
One mental skill that definitely ought to be cultivated is the ability to think logically. Being able to draw valid inferences and build complex chains of logic is an absolute must, especially in the neoreactionary realm in which so much discussion takes the form of reasoned debate. If you can’t tell a deductive inference from an inductive one, a few lessons in basic logic might be in order. If you’re in a position to take a class or two at a university I recommend taking that route. If not, you might need to rely on a few books in order to become familiar with basic logical principles. The only one I’m familiar with is Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Robert J. Fogelin’s Understanding Arguments, which I used in my “Logic” course my freshman year of university, so I recommend it simply out of not having anything else to compare it to.
Additionally, get into debates with people. It doesn’t quite matter what, but the cut and thrust of a rigorous debate breeds logical ability fairly quickly, and will also quickly make you aware of any logical fallacies you might be relying on. Speaking of fallacies, familiarize yourself with the most common and basic ones (a much lengthier list is here if you feel the need to drink from the fire hydrant).
If you want to have some fun while testing your logical capabilities, take this test. I’ll brag and say I got a perfect score, but I’ll also admit that it wasn’t an exceedingly difficult test. If that was too easy, try this one (which admittedly isn’t much of a step up either but hey, these things are fun).
It is also of importance to avoid doing things that wear down ones mental ability. A poor diet can impede mental function, as well as excessive use of alcohol and other drugs. Excessive stress can wear down ones cognitive abilities, and a lack of sleep is anathema to clear thought.
There are also substances that can enhance cognitive functioning. Some of these run from nutrients required by the body to function (such as Omega-3 fatty acids) to special herbs (Rhodiola rosea) to synthetic chemicals (piracetam, modafinil…etc). I personally find great results from a large cup of green or white tea, but there’s so much great stuff out there I’d be remiss not to send you over to Pill Scout if you’re interested in the specifics of this sort of thing.
The second aspect of the mind I wish to discuss is not so much “mind’ as “mindset”. It won’t be a guide in the manner of Bryce Laliberte’s “How to Look at the World like a Neoreactionary”, but something perhaps a step or two down in level of complexity and sophistication. Very basic, but still a bit of a necessary reprogramming to go through to open your mind further to anti-modernist concepts. After that, feel free to make your way through Bryce’s series if you haven’t already. I highly recommend it.
I’m not going to tell you what system of government is preferable, nor how society should be arranged. That’s for you to figure out based on your own values and thoughts. My goal is just to set up a basic framework of beliefs from which to expand upon.
There are three points I think I really want to get across here.
- R-Type morality leads to r-Type behavior. Strength and excellence must be valued in order to avoid slipping into weakness, ressentiment, and hedonism
- Life is short, but this is not an excuse to chase pleasure and denial the impending grasp of death. It is reason to be ambitious, and seek to achieve greatness.
- Belief doesn’t hinder one, but rather, the sublimation of the self to a higher cause can propel greater achievement and glory than would otherwise be possible.
In less wordy language, we can perhaps consider the Big Three Beliefs of a Legionnaire to be:
- Respect for strength and excellence
- Preference for achievement over pleasure
- Belief in higher ideals
Race. Religion. The pursuit of excellence. Whatever your ideal happens to be is for the most part irrelevant, though ideals like equality or pleasure will not lead to ends befitting of a Legionnaire. Pick one worth believing in and pursue it to the ends of the earth.
Bear in mind though, that dogmatic fanaticism to any ideal is a dangerous tool to use. Giving yourself over too completely runs terrible risks. You could blind yourself to reason, refuse to recognize when you need to adjust your course, and stray from the path of finding the truth. That said, just the right amount is powerful fuel for action. This is one of those things where you have to figure out for yourself how much you can handle. Yes, I am telling you to play with fire here. I’m assuming you’re capable of handling it. Don’t prove me wrong here.
A few final words on the pursuit of greatness, before we wrap up this thread. The pursuit of excellence in particular is one of the key hallmarks of the Legionnaire, but I do not mean greatness in a vague, ambiguous sense. I mean in in achieving superior capability in the realms of the physical, mental, social, and all the other stages I mean to describe in this series. I mean having full knowledge of how to improve the self and becoming a more potent human being. It’s about knowing how to shore up your weaknesses with your strengths and keep everything in balance. It is about carrying on when times are tough and there is nothing to do but struggle onwards.
Let’s take a peek at “The Legionnaire’s Reading List” so that I might explain my reasoning behind the works listed there. I recommend you read all of them for this section. They fit together in some nuanced and subtle ways.
The Genealogy of Morals – Friedrich Nietzsche
As I’ve stated before, Nietzsche was my first step on the road to reaction. It was reading this book that first opened my eyes to the distinction between Master-morality and slave-morality, a concept which continues to have huge influence on my thought. A good reading (or two or three) of this work serves as not only a a solid introduction to Nietzsche, but as a good criticism of how our modern-day morality based on rights, freedoms, and equality serves merely as a cover for ressentiment and weakness. Nietzsche is perhaps one of the finest antitheses to modernist thought, once you really get into him, and was a huge influence on Julius Evola, one of the most famed writers of traditionalist philosophy. Reading Nietzsche is a must. Here’s where you should start.
Self-Reliance – Ralph Waldo Emerson
In his work, Self-Reliance, Emerson calls for readers to take upon themselves the burdens of powerful individualism and self-reliance. Now, while I’ve not gotten much into the topic, I think humans are most effective in small, focused groups bent upon a certain goal. In rejecting individuality for the sake of the group, greater achievement can be accomplished. Why then do a recommend such a paean to individualism? Simple. The whole can be made greater by the sum of the parts. A strong individual that makes the conscious choice to become part of a greater whole is a far more capable threat than one who cannot handle the burdens of individuality and self-reliance. Think of it as pledging oneself to a higher cause as opposed to mindlessly following the herd, a pack of wolves versus a herd of sheep, as it were. There are also some fine critiques of following the hive mind in this work.
The Shortness of Life – Seneca
The idea that life is short has become such a tired cliche that no one pays it much heed anymore, other than occasional lip service. As a result, we forget that death lies in wait for us all and we squander the life we do have. Here, Seneca calls out to task all those who waste their time on frivolities and urges us to devote ourselves to more weighty causes. It’s a sentiment I hold myself in much accord with, and one I think all Legionnaires must recognize.
The Way of Men – Jack Donovan
Ok, so I admit I’ve not personally read Jack Donovan’s most well-known book, but I’m familiar enough with the basic ideas and principles to be willing to recommend it anyway (the numerous positive reviews I’ve heard from people I trust also help). Quite simply, men are creatures that operate best in tribal war-bands, and masculinity boils down to a how effectively a man fulfills his role in this sphere. Some interesting ideas not only on what a man is, but on how he needs his gang.
If – Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling, most famous for his work, The Jungle Book, (in itself famous for being a Disney movie) was also a staunch advocate of Imperialism and Colonialism. This is usually a sign that someone has very traditional ideas of what it means to be a man, and indeed, this connection holds true with Kipling. In this poem, Kipling states a simple idea: if you can hold yourself together no matter the circumstances, staying focused and powering through adversity, you will be a man. Discipline and focus (plus a few other things) are what you need to cultivate. It’s a blunt, clear message, written in Kipling’s typical manner.
- The mind can be trained and sharpened
- Mental discipline, focus, and agility can be trained with N-Back training, among other things
- Avoid things that hamper cognitive function
- Some substances can aid in mental function
- Big Three Beliefs of the Legionnaire
- Respect for strength and excellence
- Preference for achievement over pleasure
- Belief in higher ideals
- Read more Nietzsche
- Be a wolf, not a sheep
Though so far in this series I’ve focused on the individual in isolation, I’ll be moving into a discussion of what happens when a Legionnaire-in-training is thrust into the tumultuous world of social dynamics and interpersonal relations. A Legionnaire is nothing without a Legion. Ad victoriam!